Satyajit Ray: life, cinematographic influences and films to see

Table of Contents

Satyajit Ray was born on May 2nd 1921. He is one of the most famous Indian directors. Ray was an eclectic artist: film writer, documentary director, author, essayist, lyricist, magazine editor, calligrapher, songwriter and also illustrator. Ray is widely considered to be among the best directors of all time.

He is famous for works such as The Apu Trilogy (1955– 1959), The Music Room (1958), The Big City (1963) and Charulata (1964). Ray was born in Calcutta to the famous author Sukumar Ray who introduced him to the field of arts and literary works. Starting his work as a commercial artist, he was drawn to the independent cinema after meeting the French director Jean Renoir and seeing Vittorio De Sica’s Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) during a visit to London.

Satyajit-Ray

Satyajit Ray has distributed 36 films, including feature films, shorts and docudramas, as well as the author of numerous narratives and stories, mainly for young children and young adults. Feluda, the investigator, and also Professor Shonku, the researcher in his science fiction stories, Tarini Khuro, the narrator and Lalmohan Ganguly, the narrator are popular fictional characters created by him. In 1978 he was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Oxford.

Satyajit Ray’s initial film, Pather Panchali (1955), won eleven international awards, consisting of the inaugural award for best human document at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. This film, along with Aparajito (1956) and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) (1959), is part of the Apu trilogy. Ray handled the script, casting, editing, as well as creating the film’s titles.

Ray has garnered several major awards in his work, including 36 Indian National Film Awards, a Golden Lion, a Golden Bear, 2 Silver Bears, numerous additional awards at film festivals and even reviews around the world and an Academy Honorary Award in 1992.

The Indian government honored him with Bharat Ratna, his greatest civil honor, in 1992. Ray had indeed received several significant awards during his life. Ray is also known for his written works as Feluda Somogro, where he developed one of the most popular investigative characters for children. Feluda aka Pradosh Chandra Mitter. He is also known for his horror stories.

Starts to watch movies online with a free trial

Film-in-streaming

Satyajit Ray’s Early Years

Satyajit-Ray

Satyajit Ray was born to Sukumar and Suprabha Ray in Calcutta. Sukumar died when Satyajit was just three years old, and family members survived Suprabha Ray’s meager income. Satyajit Ray studied at Ballygunge Government High School in Calcutta and finished his business administration degree at Presidency College in Calcutta, although his interest was consistently in the arts.

In 1940, his mother urged him to study at the Visva-Bharati University of Santiniketan, founded by Rabindranath Tagore. Ray hesitated to go, due to his desire to stay in Calcutta and his low regard for intellectual life in Santiniketan. His mother’s persuasiveness and her respect for Tagore eventually encouraged him to try.

At Santiniketan Ray appreciates oriental art. He later confessed that he had discovered a lot from the famous painters Nandalal Bose and Benode Behari Mukherjee. He later produced a docudrama, The Inner Eye, about Mukherjee. His visits to Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta sparked his admiration for Indian art.

In 1943, Satyajit Ray started working at DJ Keymer, a British advertising agency, earning 80 rupees a month. He liked visual design. The Brits were paid much better and Ray really felt that “the customers were generally stupid”. Subsequently, Ray benefited from Signet Press, a publisher founded by DK Gupta. Gupta asked Ray to produce book covers for the company and also provided him with full artistic freedom.

Satyajit Ray has made covers for several publications, including Jibanananda Das and Rupasi Bangla’s Banalata Sen, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s Chander Pahar, Jim Corbett’s Maneaters of Kumaon and Jawaharlal Nehru’s Discovery of India. He edited a children’s version of Pather Panchali, a timeless Bengali book by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay. By designing the cover and illustrating the book, Ray was deeply influenced by this work. He used it as the subject of his first film and featured his illustrations as framing.

Along with Chidananda Dasgupta and others, Satyajit Ray founded the Calcutta Film Society in 1947. They reviewed several foreign films, many of which Ray enjoyed and studied seriously. In the same year, French director Jean Renoir chose Calcutta to shoot his film The River. Ray helped him discover places in the countryside. Ray told Renoir about his idea of ​​filming Pather Panchali, which he had long ago in mind, and Renoir urged him to make the project.

In 1950, DJ Keymer sent Satyajit Ray to London to work at the headquarters. During his 6 months in London, Ray saw many films. Among these the neorealist film Thieves of bicycles (1948) by Vittorio De Sica, which had a profound influence on him. Ray later stated that he walked out of that movie theater to become a director.

Choose a movies to watch from the catalog

film-dessai

The Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali

Pather Panchali is a semi-autobiographical story that explains the maturation of Apu, a little boy in a village in Bengal. Satyajit Ray has assembled an inexperienced crew. The cast consisted mainly of amateur actors. After unsuccessful efforts to encourage numerous producers to finance the work, Ray began filming in late 1952 with his savings. Ray made Pather Panchali in two and a half years, an unusually long period, based on when he or his production manager Anil Chowdhury could have additional budgets.

Refused funding from resources who wanted to transform the script. He also neglected directions from the Indian federal government to incorporate a happy ending, however he secured funding that allowed him to finish the film. Ray showed the film to American director John Huston, who stayed in the hunting areas of India for The Man Who Would Be King. Excited by what he saw, Huston informed Monroe Wheeler at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) that a great talent was on the horizon.

With funding from the West Bengal government, Satyajit Ray finally finished the film; was released in 1955 with great praise. It has earned many accolades in India and abroad. The Times of India wrote “It is ridiculous to contrast it with any other Indian cinema. Pather Panchali is pure cinema”. In the UK, Lindsay Anderson created a favorable review of the film. The film also got negative reactions; It is said that François Truffaut actually said: “I don’t want to see a film about farmers eating with their hands”.

Bosley Crowther, the New York Times top film critic, criticized the film’s slow structure and even acknowledged that “it takes perseverance to watch it.” Edward Harrison, an American distributor, was concerned that Crowther’s assessment would put audiences off, but the film enjoyed an eight-month release in the United States.

A footage of Apu getting his hair washed by his sister Durga and mom Sarbojaya was featured in The Family of Man, a MoMA event that was seen by 9 million site visitors. Of the thirteen images in the exhibition depicting India, it was the only one taken by an Indian photographer. Manager Edward Steichen attributed it to Ray, however it was likely taken by the film’s cinematographer, Subrata Mitra.

Aparajito

Satyajit Ray’s film profession began in earnest after the success of his next film, the 2nd in The Apu Trilogy, Aparajito (1956). This film illustrates the eternal struggle between the ambitions of a boy, Apu, and his mother. Upon release, Aparajito won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, bringing Ray substantial recognition. In a review, Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle applauded Ray for his ability to record emotion and blend music with storytelling to create a “perfect” picture. Film critics like Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak rate it higher than Ray’s initial film. 

Parash Pathar and Jalsaghar

Satyajit Ray launched and directed 2 other films in 1958: the comic book Parash Pathar (The Philosopher’s Stone), as well as Jalsaghar (The Music Room), a film about the decadence of the Zamindars, considered among his most important works.

The Timeout publication gave Jalsaghar a favorable review, describing him as “slow, rapt and hypnotic”.

Apur Sansar

While making Aparajito, Satyajit Ray didn’t actually plan a trilogy, but after being asked about the concept in Venice, the idea attracted him. He completed the last chapter of the trilogy, Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) in 1959. Ray featured 2 of his favorite actors, Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore, in this film. It opens with Apu who lives in a house in Calcutta almost in poverty; ends up in an uncommon marital relationship with Aparna. The scenes of their life together create “one of the traditional representations of married life in the cinema”. 

After Apur Sansar was harshly criticized by a Bengali film critic, Ray wrote an article to safeguard him. He rarely responded to critics during his directing career, but later also protected his favorite film Charulata. Critic Roger Ebert summed up the trilogy as “It deals with a place, a culture and a time far removed from ours, yet it connects directly and deeply with our human feelings. It is like a petition, attesting that this is what it is. that cinema may be, no matter exactly how far away we may be. “

Satyajit Ray’s success had little influence on his private life in the years to come. He continued to live with his wife and children in a rented house, with his mother, uncle and also other members of his large family.

During this time, Ray made films about the British Raj period, a documentary on Tagore, a comedy film (Mahapurush) and his first film from an original screenplay, Kanchenjungha. She has also made a number of films which, taken together, are considered by critics to be among the most heartfelt representations of Indian women on screen.

Devi (The Goddess)

Satyajit Ray made Devi (The Goddess) in the 1960s, a film in which he analyzed superstitions in Hindu culture. Sharmila Tagore played Doyamoyee, a young bride deified by her father-in-law. Ray was warned that the Central Board of Film Certification could block his film, or at least force him to cut it, but Devi was saved. Upon international release, the Chicago Reader critic called the film “full of sensuality and paradoxical touches”. 

Rabindranath Tagore

In 1961, at the insistence of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Ray was commissioned to make Rabindranath Tagore, based on the poet of the same name, on the occasion of the celebration of his centenary of birth, a tribute to the person who probably most impressed Ray. Ray said that film took as much work as three feature films.

Sandesh Magazine

In the same year, along with Subhas Mukhopadhyay and others, Satyajit Ray had the ability to revitalize Sandesh, the children’s magazine his grandfather had founded. Ray had been saving money for a few years to make it doable. A duality in the name (“news” in Bengali and also a pleasant popular dessert) set the tone for the publication (both entertaining and educational). Ray began making pictures for this, as well as creating children’s stories and essays. The magazine eventually became a stable income.

Kanchenjungha

In 1962, Satyajit Ray directed Kanchenjungha, based on his first original screenplay, it was also his first color film. It tells the story of upper-class family members who spend a day in Darjeeling, an attractive hilltop community in West Bengal. They attempt to prepare their youngest son’s work as a highly paid designer in London. Ray had originally planned to shoot the film on a large estate, but later decided to film it in the renowned city. He used many shades of light and even haze to mirror the tension in the drama. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times gave the film a mixed review; praised Ray’s “soft and relaxed” movie, but assumed the characters were cliché. In the 1960s, Ray visited Japan and had the pleasure of meeting director Akira Kurosawa, whom he held in high regard.

Charulata (The Lonely Wife)

In 1964, Satyajit Ray directed Charulata (The Lonely Wife); one of Ray’s favorite films, it was considered by many critics to be his most successful. Ray said the film contained the fewest flaws among his works, and it was his only work that, if he had the chance, would have done exactly the same. Critic Philip French felt it was one of Ray’s best.

In the aftermath of Charulata, Satyajit Ray embarked on various projects, from fantasy to science fiction, from detective story to historical dramas. Ray also experimented during this time. The film received a “Critics Award” at the Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1967, Satyajit Ray wrote a screenplay for a film called The Alien, based on his short story “Bankubabur Bandhu” (“Banku Babu’s Friend”), which he wrote in 1962 for Sandesh magazine. Ray found that his script had been copyrighted and Michael Wilson had appropriated it. Wilson initially approached Ray through their mutual friend, Arthur C. Clarke, to represent him in Hollywood.

The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha

In 1969, Satyajit Ray directed his most successful film; a musical fantasy based on a children’s story created by his grandfather, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha). They are Goopy the singer, Bagha the drummer, gifted with 3 gifts from the King of the Ghosts, who embarks on a journey to avoid an impending battle between two neighboring kingdoms. Among his most expensive works, the film was difficult to finance. Ray abandoned his desire to do it in color, as he turned down an offer that would surely force him to choose a specific Hindi movie star as the lead. The director also composed the music for the film.

Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights in the Forest)

Subsequently, Satyajit Ray directed the film adaptation of a novel by the poet and writer Sunil Gangopadhyay. The story tells the story of a group of four friends, who despite being completely different, are very fond of each other. The four friends are all educated and come from different strata of society, but the desire to escape from the daily grind of city life forces them to wander the tribal lands.

The Calcutta Trilogy

After Aranyer Din Ratri, Satyajit Ray recounted the modern life of the Bengali. He made what became known as the Calcutta trilogy: Pratidwandi (1970), Seemabaddha (1971) and Jana Aranya (1975), 3 films that were individually conceived but had similar themes.

Pratidwandi (The Adversary) talks about an optimistic young graduate; although disillusioned with the end of the film, it is still pristine. Seemabaddha (Company Limited) depicts a successful man who gives up his morality for further gains.

Jana Aranya (The Middleman) tells of a young man who succumbs to the society of corruption to earn a living. In the first film, Pratidwandi, Ray introduces new narrative methods, such as scenes in stark contrast to each other.

Also in the 1970s, Ray adapted two of his favorite stories as a detective film. Primarily targeting children and young adults, both Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) and Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God) have become cult film

Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players)

Satyajit Ray thought about making a film about the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, but later abandoned the idea, stating that, as a director, he was extremely curious about refugee issues and not about policy. In 1977, Ray completed Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players), a film based on a short story by Munshi Premchand. It is set in Lucknow, in the state of Oudh, one year before the Indian rebellion of 1857.

Speech on issues related to the colonization of India by the British, was Ray’s first film a language other than Bengali. He was portrayed by high-level actors such as Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Amjad Khan, Shabana Azmi, Victor Bannerjee and Richard Attenborough. Regardless of the film’s limited budget, the Washington Post critic gave it a positive review; “Ray has what many overly indulgent Hollywood directors often don’t have: a history show.”

Hirak Rajar Deshe (Kingdom of Diamonds)

In 1980, Satyajit Ray made a sequel to Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, Hirak Rajar Deshe (Kingdom of Diamonds). The reign of the evil Diamond King is an indictment of India during Indira Gandhi’s time of emergency. Along with his acclaimed short film Pikoo (Pikoo’s Diary) and the hour-long Hindi film, Sadgati, this is one of his short-lived works. 

Plagiarism of The Alien

When ET launched in 1982, Clarke and Ray saw similarities in the film to his previous manuscript The Alien; Ray claimed that ET plagiarized his manuscript. Satyajit Ray said Steven Spielberg’s film “would certainly not have been achievable without my script for ‘The Alien’ being offered across America in mimeographed copies.” Spielberg refuted any kind of plagiarism by saying, “I was a kid in high school when this manuscript was circulating in Hollywood.” (Spielberg actually graduated from secondary school in 1965 and also released his first film in 1968). In addition to The Alien, 2 other unrealized scripts that Ray actually intended to direct were adaptations of the old Indian epic, the Mahābhārata, and also EM Forster’s 1924 book A Passage to India.

Satyajit Ray’s Final Years

Satyajit-Ray

Satyajit Ray became the first Indian to receive an Honorary Academy Award in 1992. In 1983, while working with Ghare Baire (Home and the World), Ray suffered a heart attack that would severely limit his business in subsequent years. 9 years of his life. Ghare Baire, an adaptation of the story of the same name, was completed in 1984 with the help of Ray’s son, who has since worked as a camera operator. Despite Ray’s health problems, the film received accolades; critic Vincent Canby gave the film a maximum five-star rating and also praised the performances of the three main actors.

In 1987, Satyajit Ray recovered to some degree to direct the 1990 film Shakha Proshakha (The Branches of the Tree). Ray’s latest film, Agantuk (The Stranger), is lighter in mood but not in theme; when a long-lost uncle arrives to visit his niece in Calcutta, it raises suspicions as to why.

Heavy smoker but non-drinker Ray loved his job more than anything else. Surely he would work 12 hours a day and go to bed at two in the morning. Likewise, he enjoyed collecting antiques, manuscripts, rare gramophone records, paintings and rare books. In 1992, Ray’s health deteriorated due to heart problems.

He was admitted to a health facility but never recovered. Twenty-four days before his death, Satyajit Ray was awarded an Honorary Academy Award by Audrey Hepburn using a video link; he was seriously ill, but gave a speech of thanks, calling it the “ideal result of his career as a director”. He died on April 23, 1992, 9 days before his 71st birthday.

Satyajit Ray’s cinematic style

Satyajit-Ray

Satyajit Ray drew inspiration from the cinema of Jean Renoir and Vittorio De Sica, which he believed represented the best Italian neorealism. De Sica taught him to create long sequence shots and to use amateur actors. Ray actually admitted that he discovered the craft of film from Hollywood directors like John Ford, Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch. He had deep esteem and appreciation for his contemporaries Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman, whom he considered titans. Among others, he learned the use of still images from François Truffaut, and also cuts and fades by Jean-Luc Godard.

Although he liked Godard’s “innovative” early stage, he thought his later stage was “unusual”. Satyajit Ray adored his peer Michelangelo Antonioni, but disliked Blowup, which he considered to have “very little internal movement”. He was also enthusiastic about the work of Stanley Kubrick. Although Ray claimed to have had very little influence from Sergei Eisenstein, films such as Pather Panchali, Aparajito, Charulata and even Sadgati include scenes that show surprising uses of editing. 

Subrata Mitra’s photography has garnered praise in Satyajit Ray’s films, although some critics think that the end of the collaboration with Mitra da Ray had lowered the photographic quality of subsequent films. The editor of Ray’s films was Dulal Datta, but the director usually set the pace of editing himself. Early in his occupation, Ray worked with Indian musicians such as Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan, and Ali Akbar Khan.

Beginning with Teen Kanya, Satyajit Ray began composing his own soundtracks. Beethoven was Ray’s favorite composer; Likewise Ray ended up being a prominent lover of Western symphonic music in India. The narrative structure of Ray’s films is represented by musical forms such as rondo, sonata and fugue. Kanchenjunga, Nayak and Aranyer Din Ratri are examples of this property.

Depending on the actor’s skill and experience, Ray varied the intensity of his directing, from nothing with actors like Utpal Dutt, to using the actor as a puppet (Subir Banerjee as the young Apu or Sharmila Tagore as Aparna). The actors who had worked for Ray trusted him, but said he could also treat incompetence with utter contempt. Satyajit Ray has attributed to life the best kind of inspiration for cinema; said: “For a popular medium, the best kind of inspiration should come from life and have its roots in it.

The critique of Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray’s work has been described as full of humanism and universality and a deceptive simplicity. with deep underlying complexity. Some critics find his work anti-modern; they criticize it for the lack of the new modes of expression or experimentation found in the works of Ray’s contemporaries, such as Jean-Luc Godard. Kurosawa defended it by saying that films Ray’s were not slow; “His work can be described as a flow, like a great river.”

Even critics who disliked the aesthetics of Satyajit Ray’s films have generally recognized his ability to embrace an entire culture with all its nuances. French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson described Ray as “undoubtedly a giant in the world of cinema.” With positive admiration for most of the films of Ray, critic Roger Ebert cited The Apu Trilogy as one of the greatest films in the history of cinema.

Praising his tribute to the world of cinema, Martin Scorsese said: “His work is in the company of that of living contemporaries such as Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa and Federico Fellini.” Francis Ford Coppola mentioned Satyajit Ray as a significant influence; he praised Devi from the 1960s, which Coppola considers his best work as well as a “cinematic turning point”; Coppola confesses that he discovered Indian cinema with Ray’s works. While on vacation in India, Christopher Nolan expressed his admiration for Ray’s Pather Panchali. Nolan said: “Lately I’ve had the satisfaction of seeing Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, something I’ve never seen before. I think it’s one of the best films ever made. It’s a phenomenal job.”

Politics also influenced the debate on Satyajit Ray’s work. Some advocates of socialism claim that Ray was not “committed” to the cause of the nation’s oppressed classes, while some critics accused him of glorifying poverty in Pather Panchali and Ashani Sanket (Distant Thunder) through lyricism and aesthetics. Satyajit Ray would go on to make films about this demographic as an “easy target”, including Pratidwandi and Jana Aranya (set during the Naxalite movement in Bengal).

Influence of Satyajit Ray

Satyajit-Ray

Ray is a social symbol in India and in Bengali communities around the world. Satyajit Ray’s influence has been deep and widespread in Bengali cinema; many Bengali directors, including Aparna Sen, Rituparno Ghosh and Gautam Ghose as well as Vishal Bhardwaj, Dibakar Banerjee, Shyam Benegal and Sujoy Ghosh of Hindi cinema in India, Tareq Masud and also Tanvir Mokammel in Bangladesh, Aneel Ahmad in England, were influenced from his work.

Directors such as Budhdhadeb Dasgupta, Mrinal Sen and Adoor Gopalakrishnan have indeed recognized his enormous contribution to Indian cinema. Beyond India, directors Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, James Ivory, Abbas Kiarostami, Elia Kazan, William Wyler, François Truffaut, John Huston, Carlos Saura, Isao Takahata, Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Danny Boyle, Christopher Nolan, and many other international directors have been influenced by Ray’s cinematic style.

In 2002, Sight & Sound’s poll of film critics and directors rated Satyajit Ray at number 22 on the list of the greatest directors of all time, making him the fourth highest-scoring Asian director in the poll. In 1996, Entertainment Weekly ranked Satyajit Ray at number 25 on its “50 Best Directors” list. In 2007, the Total Film release included Satyajit Ray in its “100.” best film directors ever “.

Hundreds of movies and documentaries selected without limits

New movies every week. Watch on any device, without any ads. Cancel at any time.
error: Content is protected !!

Hundreds of movies and documentaries selected without limits

New movies every week. Watch on any device, without any ads. Cancel at any time.